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General principles of cellular communication
General principles of cellular communication

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General principles of cellular communication


All organisms, whether unicellular or multicellular, need to respond to their ever-changing environment in order to survive and flourish. Such responses are governed by the ability of cells to sense physical changes and chemical cues occurring around them. The process of sensing and responding to extrinsic signals is often termed cellular communication, although scientists also use terms such as ‘signal transduction’ or ‘signalling’.

Cells respond to a wide range of extrinsic signals that include chemical messengers (e.g. hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters), electrical impulses, mechanical forces, pH, heat and light.

In this free course, General principles of cellular communication, you will explore the most common paradigm for cellular communication, which is the detection of extrinsic stimuli by receptors on the surface of cells. Particular emphasis is placed on how the interaction between an extrinsic stimulus and its receptor on the cell surface subsequently causes cellular responses through the activation of specific intracellular signalling pathways. You will explore this chain of events using well-characterised examples in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course S317 Biological science: from genes to species [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .